This was an altogether eventful Gundam episode on many fronts, but I think the most significant is that it was the moment that Lord Ezelcant has finally been laid bare as a character after three cours of buildup. He’s undeniably a complicated figure – arguably the most complicated in the AGE universe – and many adjectives could accurately be used to describe him. But in the end, he has to go down as just one more misguided force for evil in a universe that’s short on admirable people.
When you strip away the veneer, what you’re left with is a Vagan leader who’s a eugenicist, pretty much. His fancy talk and high ideals can’t hide the fact that what he’s trying to do is create a master race – a group of genetically superior individuals (as he defines them) who can inherit the human race after the nasty war-mongers are wiped out, and create the “Eden” (actually Yosemite Valley) which he revealed to Zaeheart long ago, and now reveals to Kio. Anime is certainly full of characters who strive to achieve what seem like ultimately good ends by using misguided and evil means (and you know who you are) but that doesn’t change the fact that consequentialism doesn’t work, and that evil in the name of good is still evil.
What can also be said about Ezelcant is that he’s a tragic figure, and a startlingly ambitious one. His love for Romy was no doubt genuine, as is his desire to see a human race without conflict. And he doesn’t seem to play favorites among Vagan and Earthers – he subjects them to the same standard, and uses the same methodology (“testing” them in extreme situations) to determine who’s good enough to survive. His pessimistic worldview that the entire species has become to rotten with hate that the only way to save it is to destroy it aside, he’s also created an elaborate fantasy where Kio is the reborn soul of Romy, whose dying wish was to be reborn on Earth. So whatever Ezelcant was when he created his master plan, he’s clearly out where the buses don’t run now.
So then, ultimately, it comes down to what Kio decides to do – fittingly, as the next ep is “Kio’s Decision”. Ezelcant my be dying but he’s created a startlingly powerful Vaganized Gundam, which both Kio and Asemu’s Gundams were useless against. It was only by the clever stratagem concocted by the pirates (blow-up asteroids – I like it) that they were able to escape – that and the fact that in the end, for whatever reason, Ezelcant can’t bring himself to kill Kio. It seems likely that Zaeheart – who has seen Ezelcant’s Eden – and Zanald will fight a civil war for control over Vagan after Ezelcant’s death, but what will Kio do after he’s reunited with Flit? Taking the Kira Yamada path seems most likely – I can’t really imagine Kio going back to killing Vagan mindlessly after what he’s seen – but the Vagan are not exactly going to be open to conciliation. And what of Asemu – will he stay with the pirates and abandon his son again?
Lastly, yes – it was pretty predictable that Deen would show up with the new recruits. Interesting to see if that gets woven into the plot later on.